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Review: Rob Cohen’s Sci-Fi Comic Red Dog

Artwork by Rob Atkins for sci-fi comic Red Dog

Red Dog perfectly illustrates the old maxim: ‘If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It’

[ED: We were provided this comic to review by the publisher, 451 Entertainment.]

Every so often, famous people from various spheres of life try to enter the world of comic book making. Some, like Gerard Way, even become highly successful earning prestigious awards, while some go into obscurity. Most recently, 451 Entertainment published the Sci-Fi comic Red Dog by Rob Cohen, famous for directing the original The Fast and The Furious movie. His Red Dog miniseries will last for 6 chapters, being published bi-monthly, and with the first chapter recently released, let’s delve into the world of Kirawan and see what Cohen’s story is all about.

The Setting and Characters for Sci-Fi Comic Red Dog

The setting of the story is pretty generic when it comes to the sci-fi genre. A bleak future where Earth’s resources have been depleted, which has forced people to seek new sources of energy, which coincided with the discovery of a new element, and a planet not suitable for humans that needs to be colonized and mined for “the single most valuable element in the universe.” We have seen it in numerous sci-fi intellectual properties (Doom 2016, Avatar, even Star Wars Legends stories…), but since it’s been successful for the genre, who are we to judge?

The main character is Kyle, the only kid on the entire colony, whose only friend is a dog. The dog is not only “Robotic Engineering Defined (R.E.D.),” but it is also red in color, and is powered by a powerful quantum computer, which enables it to learn how to be a dog better than dogs from Earth can if we’re to believe the comic book synopsis. Kyle’s family has already lost one son due to unexplained circumstances, so his father has distanced himself from him and Kyle just wants to be accepted and acknowledged, which is where a caring mother and an uncle come in to help develop the family dynamic.

Besides the fact that the planet has no oxygen or water and that humans can’t live at all outside of the dome that covers the colony, there are also alien life forms out to get them. The planet is inhabited by demon/bug like creatures who keep attacking whenever the people begin transporting the element back to Earth and are described as being without feelings and are lower life forms than animals.

The dog itself hasn’t really had a big role in chapter 1, which is kind of ironic considering the comic’s name, nor have his abilities been described other than the fact that he is computerized. He was only seen doing dog things like falling mid-running, or barking joyfully, or other simple activities like that. Hopefully, we’ll see more of him in the chapters to come since the synopsis does mention that many great things are yet to come for both the boy and the dog.

The Writing And Artwork in Sci-Fi Comic Red Dog

Although the setting is not very innovative, the narration and writing are done surprisingly well and the comic is rather pleasurable to read. Even though the plot is formulaic, it was still enjoyable, especially if you like making fan predictions and analyzing what the writer’s foreshadowing might be. The kid finally gets his chance to join the workers and as he wishes to meet these mysterious aliens that every adult’s been talking about, he messes up and ignores the previously seen obligatory speech about responsibility and adulthood.

The comic is illustrated by Rob Atkins, known to people mostly for his work on GI Joe comics. This fits perfectly as the book also has a tendency to become a soldier warfare comic book, and Atkins has proven many times that illustrating warfare suits him incredibly well, seen most impressively with his depictions of weaponry, mechs, and robots in Red Dog. The coloring is also done superbly well as the barren wasteland doesn’t look like just a pile of yellow and brown land, and the colony looks better than many places on Earth.

Artwork by Rob Atkins for sci-fi comic Red Dog

The character design, however, lacks a bit in originality, as we can see in the generic blonde teen boy main character, a 2016 hipster dad, a beautiful and fit mom, and a mustachioed uncle. Most of the enemies look the same, which might be a bit space racist, but we do have the standard evil general that lost one of his horns at a certain point in the past so as to enable us to differentiate him in the crowd, similarly to what was seen in Lord of the Rings for Important Orcs.

Final Thoughts on Sci-Fi Comic Red Dog

Overall, the comic book is pretty average in most aspects and brings nothing new to the world of Sci-Fi, but is nevertheless fun. Strong if formulaic writing and plotting is paired with great art that results in something that might suit the fans of the genre but may make others who spent $3.99 on Comixology think that they wasted their money. Considering that it is an indie comic, one really could’ve expected the creators to be a bit more daring with ideas, including a social commentary on issues such as resource wasting and saving the Earth, but instead it’s just like reading any other comic book whose purpose is just to bring you a fun half an hour every couple of months.

So though the first issue was far from being impressive, hopefully, the world-building is over and we will now get to see some originality and innovation. Of course, this does not mean that the comic itself is bad, just that you should not expect it to be a game-changer, and if it keeps going in the same direction, there is a high chance it won’t make a lasting mark on the genre. It will, in any case, certainly be amusing to see how the relationship between Kyle and his dog develops and what the dog’s capabilities actually are.

An average comic definitely deserves and average 3 out of 5 grade, but there is room for improvement in future chapters. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t turn into a Michael Bay movie during its run. The next chapter comes out on the January 7th, so there’s still time for you to decide whether or not you’re going to jump on the Red Dog train.

Motion Graphics Trailer for the Red Dog Comic

Featured Images: courtesy of 451 Entertainment / Red Dog

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